Canucks honor Rypien with video tribute
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)
The Canucks paid tribute to former teammate Rick Rypien on Tuesday night with a video honoring the Vancouver enforcer who committed suicide in the offseason after struggling with depression for a decade.
The club showed the video before its game against the New York Rangers. The Canucks also announced they will make a $50,000 donation in Rypien's name to BC Children's Hospital Foundation.
Rypien wasn't one to seek such attention.
''He wouldn't like it,'' said defenseman Kevin Bieksa, a close friend who assisted Rypien while he was on leave from the Canucks in recent seasons. ''He didn't like the spotlight. He didn't like people worrying about him and making a big deal about things.''
During the ceremony, Bieksa presented Rypien's game-worn jersey from their 40th anniversary celebration to Rypien's brother, Wes Rypien Jr. Bieksa received a long hug from Rypien's mother and hugged Rypien's father, stepmother, stepfather and Wes Jr.
The 4-minute video opened with a dark-eyed Rypien and showed scenes from his minor hockey days in Alberta as well as times with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League and the Canucks. It also showed Rypien scoring the winning goal the last time the Canucks played the Rangers in November 2009.
The video concluded with scenes of Rypien urging fans to cheer, and the crowd responded with a standing ovation.
The Canucks' contribution includes support from the NHL Players' Association's Goals & Dreams fund and supports a youth and young adult mental health promotion strategy led by British Columbia health agencies.
''Rick Rypien was dedicated to helping young people and those in need,'' TC Carling, executive director of the Canucks for Kids Fund, said in a statement. ''Through this partnership with BCCHF, BCMHAS and the support of the Vancouver Canucks we can work together to ensure Rick's passion to help those in need is well served.''
The Canucks were given a preview of the video Monday to help ease what is expected to be an emotional ceremony.
''Our players were able to look at it (Monday) because we didn't want to surprise them right before the game, to see the video,'' Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault told the Canadian Press. ''It's real powerful, but it's a real tribute to a nice young man.''
Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said that, even without watching the video in front of fans, the video sparked a lot of emotions.
''It really sinks in to how close he was to all of us and how good a teammate he was,'' Sedin said. ''It was an emotional time, for sure. A lot of players played with him for a lot of years, even back in Manitoba. We were all close to him and it was emotional.''
Rypien was 27 when he committed suicide in August. He played six years with Vancouver before signing with Winnipeg this summer.